How To Tell The Difference Between A Card Trick And A Con Job

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Then I met Erik Seidel, one of the best poker players in the world. He agreed to become my coach, though he told me, “You’re a hard worker, and you have a good background for this, but who knows if you’re going to be any good?”

It’s been an unexpected journey. I don’t think anyone could have predicted that I would have gone in less than a year from not knowing how many cards were in a deck to winning a major poker title.

What did that involve?

I’ve been studying, playing, living, breathing poker for eight to nine hours a day. Every day! When I’m between events and in New York, I’m reading, watching videos or live-streaming very good players.

There might be a specific concept I want to work on, and I’ll watch some videos of people doing this and take notes. Sometimes I’ll go to New Jersey and hop onto the poker website at an internet cafe. Online poker is illegal in New York, but not in Jersey.

When Erik Seidel said you had the right background, what did he mean?

I think he was talking about my background in experimental psychology. I did a doctorate on overconfidence and risky decision-making with Walter Mischel, who invented the “marshmallow test.”

I wanted to see if people with high levels of self-control made better decisions in risky conditions, like in the stock market. Usually, people with high self-control do so much better at everything than people with low self-control.

But it ends up that in unpredictable environments like the stock market, successful high self-control people — when in an environment where control is taken away from them — take longer to figure things out. They are too confident and won’t take negative feedback from the environment.

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